When Was the Speed Limit Lowered on the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge?

With all the talk of speeding fines doubling on the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge since August 1st, I wondered: has the speed limit ever been lowered, and if so, when?

What has become known as the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge Bill was signed into law by Gov. John Bel Edwards in June after the Louisiana Legislative Session. SB 435 is a bill that includes drive time in speeding tickets for violators traveling on the Interstate 10 Atchafalaya Basin Bridge.

Senator President Page Cortez’s bill would mean drivers who cross the bridge in less than 18 minutes would receive a speeding ticket in the mail, with the speeding ticket being based on how fast it takes a vehicle to get from one end the bridge to get to the other the miles per hour that the vehicle has driven. Cameras would track vehicles to see if they crossed the bridge in 18 minutes or less.

(Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

(Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

However, these cameras have not yet been installed. And it looks like they won’t be until sometime in 2023. In the meantime, however, you can count on Louisiana State Police troopers and local law enforcement agencies to enforce the law.

Everyone knows the speed limit on the I-10 bridge is 60 mph, 55 mph for 18 wheels. But the freeway leading to the Basin Bridge on either side has a 70 mph speed limit, so it stands to reason that the bridge itself once had the same speed limit.

Well, you would be right with that reasoning.

Youtube via Louisiana Public Broadcasting

Youtube via Louisiana Public Broadcasting

The late Mike Foster served as Governor of Louisiana from 1996 to 2004 – two terms. When he took office, the speed limit on the Basin Bridge was set at 70 miles per hour for all vehicles.

During his first tenure, a series of accidents on the bridge in 1998 left four dead and 32 injured, according to The Advocate. Governor Foster then ordered the speed limit for all vehicles to be lowered to 60 miles per hour. Then, during his second term in 2003, The Advocate reported that an 18-wheeler crashed into a line of cars. Five people were killed, including the driver. So Governor Foster ordered a new speed limit for large oil rigs – 55 miles per hour.

Speed ​​limit 60 road sign

Unfortunately, despite the lowering of the speed limit, there are still far too many accidents on the Basin Bridge. Many drivers traveling the interstate simply continue to drive at over 70 mph when crossing the bridge. From road construction projects to a lack of speed enforcement to increased traffic, the bridge on I-10 is still considered very unsafe by many.

With the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge Bill now being enforced – although still at an early stage – it remains to be seen if camera enforcement of speeding penalties will be doubled to allow safe crossing of the bridge in the future.

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